WASHINGTON — The Braves won their opening-day game.
But they lost Max Fried for an unknown period of time in the process.
The Braves defeated the Nationals 7-2 on Thursday at Nationals Park. They are 1-0. But they will hope for the best for Fried, who suffered a hamstring strain.
Here are five observations.
1. Braves manager Brian Snitker described it perfectly.
“We came right out of la-la land down in Florida into the grinder that we go through,” he said.
After a relatively boring spring training – this was a good thing – the Braves received their first dose of adversity. They were rolling on opening day before their pitching ace strained his hamstring while running to cover first base.
Snitker said Fried would more than likely need to go on the injured list. Nothing is official yet.
“I haven’t heard anything as far as IL or not,” Fried said after the game. “Obviously, it’s still pretty fresh. I felt it running over and covering first base. Kind of at that point, (athletic trainer) George (Poulis) said that we didn’t want to take any chances, especially with the weather being a little chillier today. Right now, it’s just very much just see how I feel in the coming days.”
2. The relievers perform a thankless job. Often, they don’t receive the credit. But they certainly take blame.
They deserve praise this time.
Five relievers combined to hold the Nationals to one run over the final 5-2/3 innings after Fried exited the game in the fourth. Lucas Luetge warmed up quickly when Fried suffered the injury and took over. Then the Braves went to Jesse Chavez, Dylan Lee, Collin McHugh and A.J. Minter the rest of the way.
“I feel like everybody touched the mound and did what they needed to do, and that’s what we’re going to need for 161 more games to be able to get to the playoffs,” center fielder Michael Harris II said.
3. Of his lineup, Snitker said: “It’s a pretty good lineup. Pretty deep, kind of any way we go with it.
Somehow, that’s a bit of an understatement.
At the beginning, Orlando Arcia drove in the team’s first run of the season. Then Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies pitched in by driving in runs.
Late in the game, Travis d’Arnaud – the designated hitter on this day – plated two more with a double.
These guys really can strike from anywhere.
“It’s no pressure,” Harris said. “Anybody – the person in front of you, the person behind you – can get the job done. You do your job, and I guess if you don’t do your job, the person behind you might pick you up. That’s how we are as a team.”
4. Before the injury, Fried had allowed a run over 3-1/3 innings.
“I felt great,” Fried said. “I felt like I had a really good rhythm, got in the dugout pretty quick. Felt like it could’ve been a good one, (could’ve) been able to get deep into a game, but unfortunately things happen.”
Fried gave up four hits, but two were not his fault. Albies lost one pop-up in the sun, and Arcia couldn’t find another. (Fielders on both teams struggled all afternoon.)
Then Fried strained his hamstring.
His day ended.
“Max was so good today, too,” Snitker said. “God, he was so good, throwing the ball so well. I hate that. It could’ve been a really nice, long opening-day start for him.”
5. Here’s a weird stat for a team that has had such a successful run: Before Thursday’s win, the Braves had lost four consecutive opening-day games.
They had combined to score nine total runs in those contests.
Since moving to Atlanta in 1966, the Braves are 25-33 on opening day, including 13-21 when starting on the road.
Stat to know
11 – After Thursday, the Nationals have lost Corbin’s past 11 starts against the Braves, dating to Sept. 6, 2019.
“It’s obviously frustrating. You want to start off on a good foot and get a good rhythm going. But you obviously don’t want to push it too early because there’s still the entire season left. So trying to find that happy medium of pushing it to get back and get into a rhythm to help this club out but also not push it too far where you miss more time.” – Fried on his injury
After an off-day Friday, Spencer Strider will take the mound for the Braves on Saturday. The Nationals will start right-hander Josiah Gray in a game that begins at 4:05 p.m.